January 2008

It seems that a bunch of crazy kids did the Thriller zombie dance on the London tube today. It’s fantastic.

It would have been pretty much the best moment of my life if they had done this while I was in London last week. Except … perhaps not, because I would have been so conflicted over my desire to jump up and join them.

I have memories of standing in my parents’ living room in front of the television, trying desperately to dance along with Michael Jackson and those Thriller zombies.

I applaud the London tube dancers for their mad dance skillz and incredible subway-lurching balance. Please bring the show to the X bus!


I frequently take the Georgia Avenue Express bus to work. It is a trimmer, faster version of the clown bus, making fewer stops and taking two different turns — it goes down 9th Street instead of 7th Street downtown. Regular 70 bus (clown bus) riders who find themselves on the express bus get a little worked up and fearful when it makes that turn — where are we going? One such rider, an older African American woman, this week was trying to make sure she could still get to her stop for the X2 bus on H Street. (She could.) This led her to expound on the X bus:

“That is one bus I hate. The X bus. You get everybody on that bus.”

It sounded similar to my neighbor’s complaints about the clown bus.

I have come to love the 70/clown bus, with its endless parade of characters on the long bus that goes loping up Georgia Avenue. Now I really want to check out the X bus. Even its name is alluring … like a mysterious code name … or the Xtreme Xbus Xperience.

The X bus goes from the McPherson Square area, near the White House, down H Street, across the Anacostia River to Minnesota Avenue, a place I believe no one from the White House has ever been or will ever visit. Ned spotted the X the other day — it is a double bus connected with the rubber accordion in the middle, like the clown bus. This is a good sign. The double buses are great because they are 1) funny 2) big enough for a lot of crazy clowns. Vive la X bus!

I really need to post something so Miss America and her skanky gown are not at the top of the blog anymore.

My blogging ability has been somewhat curtailed by the illness of our home computer. But Ned is fixing that piece, thanks to some good tips from his dad and the use of parts of his brother’s old computer, which had also crashed. (Yes, we are considering making the switch to a Mac — tired of these crashing PCs.) Quote from Ned, after getting off the phone with his computer-advice-giving pops: “My dad is smart.” Spittin’ the truth.

Technology has been failing us lately. Our trusty VW, Liesel, would not start a couple weeks ago. When cars work, they are oh-so convenient, but when they break, it is very, very inconvenient. The great thing for us is that we live in DC and mostly rely on our bikes, buses and the metro to get around, so we didn’t have to worry about how to get to work. The other great thing was the “it takes a village”-esque contributions of our neighbors, friends and relatives. One neighbor gave us jumper cables. Two other neighbors helped with various attempts to jump the car, which failed, then gave us their special plug-in battery charging device, which eventually worked. Another friend came with his special tool, so we could extract the very awkwardly-placed bolt that was holding the battery in the car (we do have wrenches, promise, but the Germans don’t make this easy). My dad correctly diagnosed the problem as a chilly battery. My dad is smart too.

For generations the Freemans have been good with tinkering and fixing. My dad fixes stuff at a steel mill; my grandfather had an auto repair shop; his father farmed and, I am told, liked to buy new farm equipment (love for equipment=love for fixing, in my mind). My grandfather told me I don’t want to know about the rest of the Freemans (even though I do): “A lot of sharecroppers.”

The name “Freeman,” at least in our case, is thought to come from men who had some sort of trade, and were therefore not tied to serfdom on the land. I like to think they were all handy makers and do-ers.

Sadly, the handiness came to a screeching halt with me: I got no skills for fixin’. Ned does like to fix things, so maybe our (as yet nonexistent) children will be able to do honor to their ancestors … even the sharecroppers.

I called my little sister in South Carolina on Saturday night and left this message: “They are not reporting it on the radio, who won?” This is what happens when you want news, but your computer is in a coma, and you have no TV, and NPR is playing hot jazz … you resort to the old skool communications methods and call your family members on the phone. It’s nice.

I was, of course, asking her about Obama v. Clinton SCarolina throw-down. But I COULD have been asking about MISS AMERICA, which was also decided on Saturday evening.

I grew up with what could be described as a rather inflated notion of the importance of Miss America. My family watched the pageant on television every year. And coming from SC, where we love our pageants (see the Peanut Princess and the Chitlin Queens), the fate of Miss South Carolina was usually well documented in our local media. So I find myself a bit shocked to realize today, only after seeing a joke in the Express page, that the pageant happened without me ever even noticing it (of course, again, we have no TV, so I suppose I should not expect more).

It seems the good people of DC do not care about Miss America. Heck, maybe no one in South Carolina cares anymore, maybe they are all too busy looking for more maps of The Iraq to give to U.S. Americans. I don’t really blame them.

But I do want you, my loyal readers, to know that Miss Michigan won. And it seems she was wearing an evening gown that looks like a bad ice-dancing costume. I am appalled.

EDITOR’S NOTE: UPDATE. The more I see this picture, the more deeply disturbed I am by this “evening gown.” For the love of God and our good country, PLEASE, Miss Michigan, put on some clothes, a nice ballgown or something. There were plenty of lovely numbers on the red carpet at the SAG awards the other night, perhaps you could borrow Angelina’s sheets and make a nice tent or something. Just please, no more Miss America in the ice dancing costume. This is our plea.

Someone caught the typo! The “Counsil on Financial Lireracy” rule I wrote about yesterday was corrected in today’s Federal Register. It is now, more properly, a “Council on Financial Literacy.” I suppose this is a good sign for humanity, but I am a bit disappointed to lose the joke. It *was* misprinted in the Federal Register’s public inspection documents yesterday; I checked them at the source.

As far as the economy goes, I can say that the weak American dollar really hits home when you spend a weekend in London. All the prices appear to be about what one would expect to pay, as far as the numbers go … but wait, they are in pounds, not dollars! With the exchange rate at $2 to every pound right now, that means that everything pretty much costs twice as much as it seems like it should. It hurts a little.
Now I understand why so many Europeans are purchasing homes in U.S. resort towns — it’s like a half-price sale!

Apparently, President Bush has a President’s Advisory Counsil on Financial Lireracy.

Yes, spelled just like that — Counsil on Financial Lireracy. I am not making this up. When you see that, is it any wonder the U.S. is having economic woes? How can the Lireracy Counsil help us?

This beautiful typo is from the public inspection records of the Federal Register, our weary nation’s esteemed daily book of rules from the federal government. It should be published in the Federal Register tomorrow:



Committees; establishment, renewal, termination, etc.:

Financial Lireracy, President’s Advisory Counsil on; establishment, 08-325
[Filed 1/23/08 at 8:57 am]

It surprises me as much as it may surprise you that I am headed to London this weekend. The trip was not long in the planning, and we have been so busy (and so barely at home) since then, that I have not really had time to think about it. I don’t think it will hit me until I am there, with those beautiful pounds sterling in my hand, making my first purchase of a Cadbury’s Double Decker bar from someone with a fabulous dialect.

This is how it came about: Ned needs to go to London to meet with some business partners. I am tagging along because I love England, and I would be dying of jealousy if he went without me. Plus, there was an airfare sale (since January is such a delightful time to visit the U.K.), a federal holiday and a kind offer from a friend to host us for the weekend. We figured even if now is not the best or easiest or most available time, it won’t really ever be *easier* to go, so better do it while we can, even if it is a short stay.

So, we bought our tickets over the Christmas holiday, and if all goes according to plan, I will be stuffing my face with flapjacks, Cadburys and tea just three days from now. We are scheduled to arrive in London in all of our jetlagged, red-eye glory on Friday morning, and then we will return home again on Tuesday afternoon.

I spent 1996-1997 in England on foreign study at Leeds University. During that time, I spent several weekends in London, and I returned again a few years later, but I am certainly no expert on the city. (Nor have I been there in the past ten years — now I feel old.) So if any of you readers out there have any “must see,””must eat,” “must go to Evensong at” recommendations, please pass them along!

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